Roman Bronze Phallic Amulet

$216.14

A Roman bronze phallic amulet featuring a manus fica to the right side and phallus to the left side. At the centre there is a representation of male genitalia. The amulet displays a large loop at the top for suspension.

Date: Circa 1st - 4th century AD
Condition: Very fine condition, complete and intact with surface patination.

SOLD

SKU: RF-001 Category: Tags: ,

The phallus was emblematized to become a symbol of luck or fertility, as well as believed to have apotropaic functions. The fascinus, as the symbol, was in fact so sacred that it governed a local cult of the Roman populace. These pendants were worn protectively by all sorts of people, especially young children according to Varro and Pliny the Elder. However, nor was the phallus limited to amulet form: the motif is also commonly found on reliefs, frescoes and lamps from the Greco-Roman world.

The ‘manus fica’, “fig hand”, was an obscene hand gesture that was thought to represent female genitalia. Romans associated the fig with female fertility and eroticism, as the fruit was sacred to Bacchus. Whether made as an apotropaic gesture, worn as an amulet, or affixed to a larger object, the manus fica was used for magical protection against the evil eye. The pater familias, the head of the family, would make the manus fica sign during the Lemuria festival to ward evil spirits away from the household.

For more information on apotropaic amulets, please read our blog post: Apotropaic Art: Amulets and Phallic Pendants in Ancient Cultures.

Weight 11.4 g
Dimensions L 4.4 x H 2.9 cm
Culture

Metal

Region

Reference: For similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 60.117.3

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